Sunday, July 31, 2016

Los Angeles Lodged Ball Leads to Base Award, Run

Arizona scored in Los Angeles when a pitched ball lodged in catcher Yasmani Grandal's gear, prompting HP Umpire Todd Tichenor to call "Time" and award one base to each of two Diamondbacks baserunners, including R3 Jake Lamb's award of home plate and Arizona's second run of the game.

Tichenor applies the lodged base award.
With two out and runners at the corners, Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling threw a ball into the dirt at home plate, which bounced past batter Chris Owings into catcher Grandal's facemask before deflecting and lodging into the area between Grandal's chest protector and uniform shirt.

Rule 5.06(c)(7) states that the ball becomes dead when—"A pitched ball lodges in the umpire’s or catcher’s mask or paraphernalia, and remains out of play, runners advance one base."

Accordingly, Tichenor, upon realizing that the pitched ball was stuck in Grandal's gear, called "Time" and imposed the base awards: R1 to second base and R3 to home plate.

The only question—as replays indicate that immediately after or as Tichenor's moved to call "Time," the lodged ball fell out of Grandal's gear (thanks to Grandal's own movements in attempting to free the ball—is whether, because the ball subsequently fell back onto the ground, the "and remains out of play" criterion of OBR 5.06(c)(7) was satisfied.

Tichenor called "Time" as the ball came free.
The importance of this requirement is further elucidated by Rule 5.06(b)(4)(I), which pertains solely to the umpire and batter-runner: "One base, if the batter becomes a runner on Ball Four or Strike Three, when the pitch passes the catcher and lodges in the umpire’s mask or paraphernalia."

Thus, when it concerns the umpire, all ambiguity is removed and the play is dead immediately and regardless of whether the ball "remains out of play." This takes any possible discretion away from the umpire in whether his subsequent movement has caused the ball to "dislodge," and removes any potential bias that may be levied at an umpire. It doesn't matter what the umpire does afterward, for the ball is dead immediately upon the ball becoming lodged.

Not so with the catcher, which begs the question, did the ball "remain out of play" with Grandal? The answer to this question is yes. As soon as Tichenor notices the ball legally fell out of play and did not timely become loose, he instinctively moved to kill the play by announcing, "Time." Because Tichenor called for "Time" immediately before (or, to give the benefit of the doubt, simultaneously when) the ball came free and dropped back onto the playing field, the play was already dead.

Because the play was, at this point, dead, the umpire is to consider why the play became dead using  the information gleaned prior to the play becoming dead (and, thus, his reason for calling the play dead). That information suggested the ball indeed lodged in the catcher's paraphernalia and, yes, remained out of play, which effectively validates Tichenor's call as correct.

Video available via "Read more"

Alternate Link: Pitch in the dirt winds up in Grandal's equipment, resulting in a dead ball (ARI)


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